Providence Rec Centers Languish While City Considers Stadium

Monday, June 15, 2015

 

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The gym at Davey Lopes.

Providence's youth recreation centers are in varying levels of disrepair, as the city awaits consideration of a possible new stadium proposal from the Pawtucket Red Sox owners -- who had initially pitched not paying municipal real estate taxes for the first thirty years. 

The city, which recently approved a $696 million budget, has nine recreation centers, and while the department recently unveiled a full program of summer camp offerings, some of the facilities are in dire need of improvements.  

SLIDES:  See Pictures of Providence Rec Centers BELOW

"Do I think the recreation facilities are adequately funded?  I say no," said Providence City Councilman Kevin Jackson, the longest serving member of the council.  "When we combined recreation with parks, the recreation budget dropped from about $2.1 million to about $800,000 at this point. Now that we've broken out recreation [in the budget], we can see accurately where we're at now. Investing in recreation opportunities is the number one thing we can do for a deterrent for gang activity on our streets."

The City Council invited the leadership group of the Pawtucket Red Sox to come discuss the proposal, after their initial proposition was rejected by the Governor Gina Raimondo on April 27 for being "not fair" to Rhode Islanders.  Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza said the city would consider any proposal under a specific set of guidelines, including economic impact -- and cost/benefit analysis. 

"They haven't sat down with us yet, but their first proposal, there's no way I could agree," said Jackson of the new PawSox ownership group. "Am I willing to give a new proposal consideration?  Yes.  But they're not bringing everyone to the table at this time."

The ownership group of the Pawtucket Red Sox had first unveiled a proposal for a $85 million stadium with a thirty year lease deal with the state that would cost taxpayers $4 million a year.   Since the passing of former owner James Skeffington, opposition to a publicly funded stadium has continued, as Rhode Island waits for the next move with the AAA ball club.

The Boston Red Sox pay millions in property taxes for Fenway Park. 

Recreation Focus

Former State Representative and Deputy Secretary of State Ray Rickman, who is the former President of the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, has been a vocal proponent for recreational opportunities for the city's youth, and swimming opportunities in particular.  

"The libraries are not adequately funded. Recreation isn't adequately funded, parks -- everything that would make life better is underfunded," said Rickman.  "This isn't new, it's been going on for 20 years.  Schools since the '60s have been well-funded, and we're always underfunding everything else.  It's police and fire, and then schools and then everything else."

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"Where do you get this idea that recreation isn't as important as other things? The idea that our high schools don't have pools is criminal," said Rickman, who has pointed out that African American children drown at rate of three times their white counterparts, and 70% of African Americans don't know how to swim.  "You can't teach swimming, if you don't have the basics."

Rickman, who was instrumental in the reopening of the Davey Lopes Recreation Center Pool, after it had been closed in 2013 under then-Mayor Angel Taveras -- and reopened following public outcry -- said he was open to what the PawSox owners could bring to the table for the city. 

"I think the public discussion is being rushed, and they're trying to get closure a little to soon," said Rickman.  "If what they come back with enables them to be [at the proposed 195 location] -- fixing the utilities, infrastructure, sidewalks, I'm not opposed to helping someone.  But what they first came at us with, I am opposed to being robbed."

Youth Funding

Community organizer Tina Shepard, the Director of Community Initiatives at One Neighborhood Builders (formerly Olneyville Housing Corporation) decried what she said was misguided priorities on the part of city and state leaders. 

"We did not receive funding from RI Housing's Youth Initiative, which we and other CDCs have received for years in the past. It has helped us support youth in Olneyville with summer employment and most recently the Olneyville Youth Council which I created last fall," said Shepard

[It's] ridiculous - we have young men and women losing their lives on the streets of Providence and they are more concerned about building a stadium and offering tax breaks!! You have programs such as Unified Solutions, a group of folks that came together out of concern for our youth and offered free programs because out city seems to be too concerned about other things," said Shepard. "The fact of the matter is people tend to forget when you cut funding for youth programming your basically jeopardizing the future of this state.  Youth need to be involved and have access to positive, creative programs. Programs that nurture them allow them to see their potential, build leadership and often times gives these young people a safe and stable environment. The more you cut funding for programming the less positive options our young people have."

 

Related Slideshow: Providence Recreation Centers

Providence's nine recreation centers are in varying levels of disrepair as of June 2015.  

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Davey Lopes

Davey Lopes Recreation Center

227 Dudley Rd.

Providence, RI 02907

Torn and worn down workout equipment is shown in this picture. Old and rusty weights are all over the gym with no organization.

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Davey Lopes

Davey Lopes Recreation Center 

227 Dudley Rd.

Providence, RI 02907

Here is another picture of a bench press rack that has been used a few too many times. This rack is ripped up and has lost pretty much all of its padding.

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Davey Lopes

Davey Lopes Recreation Center

227 Dudley Rd.

Providence, RI 02907

Davey Lopes' pool, which reopened last year after repairs, appeared to have some structural issues as well as rust, sediment and debris, as the facility prepared for another summer season. 

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Neutaconkanut

Neutaconkanut Recreation Center

675 Plainfield St.

Providence, RI 02909

Inside the basketball gym at Neutaconkanut Recreation Center the padding on the wall is very worn and ripped along the top.

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Neutaconkanut

Neutaconkanut Recreation Center

675 Plainfield St.

Providence, RI 02909

The lights underneath the scoreboard in the basketball gym appear to have been hit a few times to the point where one of the lights is barely attached.

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Neutaconkanut

Neutaconkanut Recreation Center

675 Plainfield St.

Providence, RI 02909

The lockers in the men's room are extremely rusty from top to bottom and are beat up.

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Sackett Street

Sackett Street Recreation Center

159 Sackett St.

Providence, RI 02907

The paint on the walls of Sackett Street Recreation Center is chipping away fairly quickly. This wall has lost a good amount of paint already and there is more falling off.

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Sackett Street

Sackett Street Recreation Center

159 Sackett St.

Providence, RI 02907

Torn wall padding seems to be the pattern throughout these recreation centers and Sackett Street is no different.  

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Selim Madelin Rogers

Selim Madelin Rogers Recreation Center

60 Camden Ave.

Providence, RI 02908

The door to one of the stalls in the men's restroom is hanging by a hinge.

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Selim Madelin Rogers

Selim Madelin Rogers Recreation Center

60 Camden Ave.

Providence, RI 02908

One of the water fountains at Selim Madelin Rogers is missing muliple cover pieces and has a small leak.

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Selim Madelin Rogers

Selim Madelin Rogers Recreation Center 

60 Camden Ave.

Providence, RI 02908

Walking along the side of the recreation center there was a large tear in the fence. This tear was big enough for a person to walk through without any problem.

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Selim Madelin Rogers

Selim Madelin Rogers Recreation Center

60 Camden Ave.

Providence, RI 02908

The playground was in decent shape for the children, but there was one thing missing. The chain was the only thing left of the swing.

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South Providence

South Providence Recreation Center

674 Praire Ave.

Providence, RI 02905

There doesn't seem to be enough storage space at South Providence, due to the fact that there are all sorts of items stored in the locker room showers.

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Vincent Brown

Vincent Brown Recreation Center

438 Hope St.

Providence, RI 02906

The walls need to have a little work done. Inside the basketball gym the paint is very faded and falling off.

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Vincent Brown

Vincent Brown Recreation Center

438 Hope St.

Providence, RI 02906

Another piece of padding in the basketball court is falling apart. 

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West End

West End Recreation Center

109 Bucklin St.

Providence, RI 02907

At first glance it is hard to tell what this building is because of the missing letters on the sign, but this building is the West End Recreation Center.

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West End

West End Recreation Center

109 Bucklin St.

Providence, RI 02907

To add on to the missing sign, one of the entrances consists of a broken floor and stained carpet.

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West End

West End Recreation Center

109 Bucklin St.

Providence, RI 02907

An entrance to West End has a lot of the paint peeled off which doesn't make a great appearance. 

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West End

West End Recreation Center

109 Bucklin St.

Providence, RI 02907

A tile is missing underneath the water fountain at the West End Recreation Center.

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Zuccolo

Zuccolo Recreation Center

11 Gesler St.

Providence, RI 02909

The Zuccolo Recreation Center was in good shape, with only one of the things that stood out was the broken water fountain. 

 
 

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